Tag Archives: Virginia

The Bristol Herald Courier publishes my “Open Letter to President Donald J. Trump”

Hey, guys — remember the “Open Letter to President Donald J. Trump Upon His Acquittal” that I wrote a few weeks back? The Bristol Herald Courier ran it Wednesday as a letter to the editor.

The newspaper is published in Bristol, Virginia, and has a readership of 39,000.  It won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2010.

You can find the letter right here.

 

 

Rockfish Gap, Virginia, February 2020

On a clear day, this view from the Blue Ridge Mountains is mesmerizing.  Rockfish Gap is on the border between Virginia’s Augusta and Nelson Counties, between Charlottesville and Waynesboro.

That third picture you see is the hill rising behind the viewing area off Interstate 64.  I included it because those trees look pleasingly creepy — like something out of the Haunted Forest in Disney’s “Snow White” (1937).

 

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“O what was that bird, said horror to hearer?”

So I just saw an eagle.  I believe it’s only the second one that I’ve seen in my life.  (I went through an embarrassing phase upon arriving in Virginia in which I thought all those vultures were eagles, but I got over that.)

It looked truly enormous, even from a distance — much larger, I think, than the eagles I’ve seen in Youtube videos; I’m not sure what the story there is.

This comes a day after a veritably massive heron took me off guard, too.  (It was like a pterodactyl.  It buzzed me like Maverick buzzes the tower in Top Gun.)

I keep trying to get pictures for you guys; I’d love to run photos here.  But I’m always too clumsy in grabbing, pointing and shoot my camera.  (I need to practice drawing and shooting really quickly, like maybe one of those Westworld robots.)

After my vain attempt to get a shot of tonight’s eagle, it occurred to me that if I knew where it nested, I could at least keep my eye out.  So started eyeballing the treelines in my neighborhood.  I might have looked funny, because I had to squint, because my eyes aren’t what they used to be, and I’ve been told that I look “grudgy” when I squint, like I’m “looking for revenge or something.”  So I probably look like a lunatic walking around now, vengefully squinting upward, like a dude just waiting for the Martians to attack again so he can finally fight back.

My neighbors think I’m weird enough.  I can tell by the questions they ask me.

I’ll keep you guys posted.

 

 

Warmest regards.

I know this is perfectly strange (look who you’re talking to), but I have never once checked a day’s temperature in my life. I’ll check whether it’s going to rain, sure. But when it comes to the temperature, I’ve always relied on just sticking my head outside to “see what it’s like out.”

Anyway … the past few months have been bizarrely warm. A warm September doesn’t faze me much, because sometimes Septembers are like that.

But it was warm enough to wear a t-shirt out this past Halloween, wasn’t it? And maybe even shorts, depending on what you find comfortable?

Throughout December, my fellow Roanokers occasionally commented that it was like spring out. And I absolutely cannot remember a Christmas that was more unseasonably warm.

It is the evening of January 11, and it was too warm after nightfall tonight to wear a winter jacket. Even a heavy sweatshirt might have been pushing it. A light rain has cooled this evening somewhat as we are arriving now at 7 PM, which makes a jacket okay, I guess.

This post isn’t intended as a commentary on climate change or anything. I’m just saying the situation is pretty damn weird, that’s all.

 

 

Throwback Thursday: “Gremlins” (1984)!

There are few movies more quintessentially 80’s than “Gremlins” (1984).  To this day, I still think it was a strange movie because of its successful juxtaposition of elements.

On the one hand, it was a family film with a sense of wonder and the kind of wholesome sentiments about the American family that you would associate with Steven Spielberg.  (I was surprised to discover that though he was executive producer here, “Gremlins” was written by Chris Columbus and directed by Joe Dante.)  It takes place in a small town on Christmas, and follows a Spielberg-esque, young, good-natured, male protagonist.

On the other hand, the violence and black humor were pretty unexpected for a mainstream blockbuster feature film.  (If you’ve seen the movie, you can vividly remember the titular monsters being dispatched by the blender and the microwave, for example — and the murder of an elderly disabled woman is maybe the film’s biggest sight gag.)  Even the monsters themselves (which were skillfully rendered in this era of pre-CGI practical effects) were a little too scary for younger kids.  It was this movie, along with 1984’s “Indianan Jones and the Temple of Doom,” that led to the MPAA to establish its “PG-13” rating — for films that didn’t quite merit a hard “R,” but were still more intense than a mere “PG rating.”

What’s remarkable to me, though, is that these disparate elements were woven together more or less seamlessly.  “Gremlins” isn’t “Casablanca” (1942), but it’s a fairly decent goofball movie that kinda works.

A little trivia — the department store where the heroic Gizmo finally dispatches the villainous Stripe is a Montgomery Ward, which modern audiences would not recognize.  The chain went out of business in 2001.  (The eponymous online retailer has no relationship to the old brick-and-mortar stores.)  I last remember being at a “Ward’s” at Spotsylvania Mall in Virginia in the 1990’s.

 

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